ERG activities bolster employee engagement in a workforce committed to serving diverse student body
University of Phoenix is pleased to highlight the workforce community-building model of its employee resource groups (ERGs) that contribute to employee engagement and measures of employees’ sense of authenticity, inclusion and belonging in a primarily remote workplace. The University ERGs engage in community building activities, mentoring and networking across departments as well as with external organizations and nonprofits. The growth of ERG engagement and activities over the last decade tracks with increased employee satisfaction surveys measuring aspects such as authenticity and belonging, which are indicators of retention and longevity.
“It’s been incredibly rewarding to see how employees value their experience and connection with others and experience personal and career growth as a direct result,” states Julie Fink, vice president of human resources, and executive sponsor of the ERGs. “We have seen our employee survey scores increase over the last six years, and I believe that our ERGs have been part of making a meaningful contribution to employee satisfaction and engagement in that time.”
In measures of authenticity and belonging, which reflect engagement, and which have a high impact on employee satisfaction and retention, survey results have consistently high ratings over the last six years and have actually seen an overall increase since the University of Phoenix remote workforce policy was established in 2020. Responses that employees feel comfortable being themselves at work, a measure of authenticity, rose 9 points between 2018 and 2023, and those who “feel a sense of belonging at University of Phoenix” rose 13 points in the same period.
“Participating in ERGs is an opportunity to exercise leadership potential, and members and leaders are encouraged by HR to include those skills and experiences in their resumes as they apply for new positions across the University,” shares Fink.
By unanimous agreement of the Executive team, ERGs were implemented in 2016 to provide safe spaces for employees with diverse experiences to leverage avenues for networking, mentorship, and career opportunities, and have been embraced by employees to enhance their experience at the University.
There are currently five ERGs: Allies of Pride, Veterans, African American Council for Excellence (AACE), Phoenix Women Rising, and La Fuerza. The University has a Unified ERG model, which means that the ERGs operate independently but have a collective, unified engagement with each other, frequently engaging to collaborate or provide resources for each other. Employees may join one or all five ERGs and currently, over a third of employees are members of at least one ERG. Membership in ERGs is open to any individual and not limited to the constituency the ERG supports.
Tamiko Spann, MBA, manager, Financial Services, has been a member of the AACE ERG since 2017, serving as the inaugural lead and most recently on the Board of Trustees. Yearly, AACE celebrates historic and present monumental events that strengthen African American culture. “Employee Resource Groups offer employees the opportunity to network across various levels of the organization. ERGs are the pillars that strengthen the organization’s diversity foundation through education and awareness,” Spann shares. “Through the ERGs, I have been able to engage with others, expand my cultural awareness, and support others in increasing their knowledge around diversity and inclusion.”
The University ERGs frequently engage with community organizations and encourage members to be active in building relationships internally and externally. The Veterans ERG actively participates with the University’s Office of Military and Veterans Affairs, which is legendary for its leadership of the University of Phoenix annual Memorial Day flag-planting. The ERG helps members find meaningful opportunities to engage with community organizations and support military and veteran experiences and background, of employees and of students.
La Fuerza, the Hispanic, Latino, and allied communities ERG, recently collaborated with the Arizona Chamber of Commerce to hold a free, hybrid event on July 20, open to all La Fuerza members and the public, “Buenos Dias Networking Breakfast,” and hosted by University of Phoenix. “Through our collaboration, we gained valuable insights into Latinas’ Educational Equity, resource acquisition, and the collective efforts we can make to support one another,” shared Deslie Ghiorzi, manager, Admissions & Evaluation and vice lead of La Fuerza. “I hope we get many more opportunities to work together, create more networking opportunities and share more powerful messages.”
The University’s Employee Resource Groups (ERG) often collaborate with the Office of Educational Equity (OEE) and its “Inclusive Café” series, a monthly virtual meeting for faculty and staff designed to foster community building and raise awareness and dialogue about social justice and diversity, equity, inclusion and belonging. ERGs lead Café “takeover” sessions during awareness months with topics such as “Celebrating Women Who Tell Our Stories,” with Phoenix Women Rising ERG, and “Coming Out: Being Seen and Helping Others Be Seen,” with Allies of Pride ERG, “My Hair, My Rules,” with AACE ERG, and “Flipping the script on marginalization,” with La Fuerza.
These events highlight the vibrancy of ERGs in the University’s remote work culture as well as the engagement, resources, and networking support available through the ERGs.
ERG leaders and members are actively engaged and volunteer to support the Inclusive Leadership Summit, a thought leadership event on diversity, equity, inclusion and belonging (DEIB) managed by the OEE.
Reflecting a commitment by University of Phoenix to cultivating a strong sense community among the diverse workforce and equally diverse working adult student body, the University has also established Recognized Student Organizations (RSOs).
Learn more here about work culture at University of Phoenix.
About University of Phoenix
University of Phoenix innovates to help working adults enhance their careers and develop skills in a rapidly changing world. Flexible schedules, relevant courses, interactive learning, skills-mapped curriculum for our bachelor’s and master’s degree programs and a Career Services for Life® commitment help students more effectively pursue career and personal aspirations while balancing their busy lives.. For more information, visit phoenix.edu.